Is Shorten up to the challenge?

John Richardson writes: Re. “Where to now for Shorten?” (yesterday). So, Bernard Keane thinks that Bill Shorten can only survive as Opposition Leader by attacking Malcolm Turnbull on the policy front. Given the profound absence of daylight between the major political parties on any issue of substance, it sounds like Bernard is calling on “Blinky Bill” to commit ritual suicide? Of course few would notice & even fewer would care. Malcolm could then save the nation by uniting both sides of politics: what a party that would be!

Peter Matters writes: 

A) Bernard Keane, please put a large notice on the wall in front of your desk, to read: “I must cease to use obscure, long (plain english for ‘polysyllabic’) words from my otherwise readable articles.”

B) Poor Tony Abbott loved constantly accusing Julia Gillard of lying because the Greens forced her — quite rightly — to break her election promise not to install a carbon tax. He himself went to church on Sundays to square with his God his habit of lying to the public regularly and often for the rest of the week. However, the one person he lied to most of all was the person easiest to lie to: himself. The saddest example of this was his blaming everybody but himself for his downfall.

C) Malcolm Turnbull paid far too high a price for gaining the prime ministership in agreeing to a bagful of concessions to the very large component of cave dwellers among the coalition MPs. in total contradiction of his own well known opinions. These concessions will come back to bite him, as they should.

D) In order to cope with an adversary as accomplished as Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten has to completely free his mind of the petty bickering in both the Chamber and with the union  factions, stop making pork barrelling election promises and offer the community the bold, visionary — and painful — program to master the dire emergencies we all must face to cope with all the threatening emergencies. Creating jobs will do no good if the whole Australian continent will be reduced to a healf dead grab ge dump. People will respect and follow visionaries, but they also see porkbarrelling for the clumsy attempts at bribery which they are and accordingly will not respect politicians for such pettiness.

Hard decisions

Gary Woodman writes: Re. “Turnbull must cut the dead wood” (yesterday). Your editorial says “Andrew Robb is a strong performer”. That may be true, but he has demonstrated time and again in his public comments on the TPP that he doesn’t have the interests of the Australian public at heart. if he even knows (or cares) what they are. And while we’re talking about the new Cabinet, I’d like to put in a word for someone of the old Cabinet, a rare smart move from Abbott who appointed Sussan Ley as Health Minister. In the well-established tradition of Australian country women, she’s quietly getting on with the job and getting things done. I’d say this is also obvious to the incoming PM who, despite being a Liberal, has a clue or two.

Ian Dunn writes: It astounds me that Christopher Pyne is regarded as highly likely to retain a ministry in the new government. It has been fashionable to suggest that the government’s poor polling (government behind in 30 Newspolls) is due to Joe Hockey’s first budget in May 2014.This is absolutely incorrect. The coalition fell behind the ALP as early as December 2013. In a poll in February 2014 the 2PP result was 54/46 against the government. The polling collapsed when Pyne walked away from the Government’s commitment to the Gonski reforms. As shadow minister he had initially ridiculed the report, before having to admit he had not read it.

When it was plain that the report  and Gillard’s support for it were gaining traction both Pyne and Tony Abbott committed the coalition to adoption in full of the recommendations . Then, within  two months of the election Pyne announced that the government would no longer be bound by its commitment. It was bare-faced and staggering to many who had been satisfied that an expert report from a non partisan, highly competent committee, would influence public policy. The PM then intervened and some form of quite unsatisfactory compromise was announced. In my view this put Tony Abbott’s government on the skids. Nothing, since, has done anything to enhance Pyne’s reputation. It is incredible that he is likely to survive, in any capacity.

On Syria

Jock Webb writes: Re. “Abbott’s last act in accepting Syrian refugees more politics than compassion” (yesterday). I well recall the Fraser years and the arrival of the Vietnamese. Rintoul is being quite unfair to Fraser. Yes Fraser was trying to avoid “queue jumping boat people” but there is a big difference. In stark contrast to John Howard, the only Fraser minister to vote against taking the refugees, Fraser was creating a queue that refugees could join. Howard knew bloody well there was no queue to jump in Afghanistan or Iraq and he made sure none existed. Gillard at least tried to create some order. Rudd and Abbott have presided over absolute barbarism and cruelty. There is no excuse for this and Australia definitely owes Afghans and Iraqis. We accept nearly a Canberra of new migrants each year, which is utterly absurd. Some of them are as dodgy as hell and I would rather honest refugees. In Howard and Abbott we have seen a quiet callous racism which is evident when you look at their comment s over time. Rintoul is correct in his concerns, but forgetful of history.

Peter Fray

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